Every city has its own unique charm, and it's not just the tourist or new guy in town that needs a little educating on where to find it. METRO Magazine covers the best of the Twin Cities' food, entertainment and fashion scenes, and does so with the utmost of style.
The thing is, style loves progress. Like so many of our favorite print publications, METRO saw the demand for digital publications rise. Without addressing this shift in readership, METRO would miss a huge opportunity to set one heck of a standard for regional lifestyle magazines. They were ready to tackle the touchscreen world, they just weren't sure where to start.
This may be the tech nerd in us talking, but the absolute best part of working on this project was the chance to direct a publication’s foray into digital from step one. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was awesome having gorgeous photography and witty articles to design around, but this was one of those rare cases in which a client you love and respect comes to you and sincerely wants your help devising a game plan from the ground up. We couldn’t resist.
We started by breaking down METRO as a magazine — what sets this publication apart from others in its genre? What do readers enjoy about METRO, and where are there opportunities to expand upon the content METRO already provides? We knew we wanted not only to expand the magazine's readership, but we also wanted to add value for existing readers. The solution was an iPad application to bridge the gap between METRO's online content and the monthly print publications.
Articles from METRO's website populate the app's dashboard, ensuring relevant new content every time the app is opened. Users can purchase individual issues directly though the app, building their personal library within the Magazine section. Un-purchased issues are differentiated with a plastic sleeve graphic, bringing a touch of the newsstand feel to the app design.
In the Magazine section, users can purchase digitized versions of the printed monthly editions. So many tablet publications are little more than PDFs, losing sight of the interactivity tablets offer. We recreated each issue into a low file-sized HTML page keeping the iPad's ability to scroll, zoom and select text intact. This also ensures that each page looks good on the vertical or the horizontal. Hey, we're not here to judge what layout mode people prefer to read in.
METRO's app provides an additional revenue stream for the magazine. It doesn’t make sense to include made-for-print ads in a digital publication, not when the added functionality of the iPad enables ads to be much more useful. We built a series of test ads Metro used to sell ad space in the new app. One for Nice Ride was an agency favorite. It included a map showing the closest station to your current location, and how many bikes were ready and available just waiting to be taken for a spin.
METRO readers often dog-ear articles and flip through back issues to find particular recipes, restaurant recommendations and shopping listings. Inspired by these reference habits, the app enables users to customize their own reading experience. All articles, whether web or issue derived, can be bookmarked for easy access at a later time. Users can also bookmark events from the Calendar and restaurant listings from the Eat&Drink sections of the app. Bookmarks are separated by content type, creating a unique and personalized events calendar, list of restaurants and article archives.